Willowdale Cemetery and Gertrude Weil among others..

Stopped by Willow Dale Cemetery in Goldsboro, North Carolina to see this historically significant place designed by Colonel Charles Nelson. I wish to acknowledge Tim, the cemetery manager, for his gracious assist and time. Thank you.

The cemetery began in 1853 with its first occupant being Dr. Samuel Adams, a beloved local physician.

Here is a picture of Dr. Samuel Adam’s cemetery stone.

The cemetery has much history with the remains of 800 Confederate soldiers underneath its confederate monument.

The plot of Governor Curtis Brodgen who served North Carolina from 1874-1877 during the reconstruction era is here. The first Secretary of the Army, General Kenneth Claiborne Royall, is also buried in the cemetery.

Eliza Dyer, the first person of “color” was buried here in 1910. She was maid to a prominent family and they requested she be buried in the all white cemetery. The following picture shows her stone and inscription. A moving tribute.

Gertrude Weil, (1879-1971), a prominent southern Jewish activist and lifelong resident of Goldsboro is also interred here. From a prominent family involved in the merchandising business, Gertrude dedicated her life to many causes and spread her philanthropy worldwide. Below lists several of her pursuits:

  • Graduate of the high school branch of Columbia University. Attended Smith College in Massachusetts.
  • Advocate of women’s rights, founded North Carolina League of Women’s Voters. Challenged laws which thwarted women’s rights.
  • As she could not hold a political office, she volunteered and served on local boards and commissions. She was famous for knowing how to get things done and campaigned against lynching, segregation, and for Jewish rights.
  • While North Carolina voted against the US Constitution amendment for women’s right to vote, (Tennessee cast the final vote), her work is credited for setting the national tone for this effort.
  • Gained national attention in 1922 when she spotted and ripped up a stack of illegally marked ballots.
  • In the 1930’s and 1940’s rescued Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and supported the creation of Israel.
  • At 80 she dove head first into a swimming pool thereby desegregating the pool. This pool was one of her philanthropic endeavors.
Elizabeth, far left, from North Carolina Archives. 1920 picture.

From my internet search I became quite inspired by the works of this Southern Jewish Activist from the from early part of the 20th century. My interest was piqued as I live near her former home.

Her efforts and work glow as an enduring legacy for women to follow in the footsteps of her greatness. In closing here is a quote from Gertrude which best describes her simple credence.

“It is so obvious that to treat people equally is the right thing to do.”

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